WASHINGTON, DC – The University at Buffalo volleyball team ended the American Volleyball Classic and non-conference play on a high note Saturday as UB defeated Howard, 3-1. UB concludes non-conference play with an 8-4 record as they fell to #5 Penn State earlier in the day.
UB defeated the Bison, the defending MEAC Champions, 25-23, 19-25, 25-20, 25-18, as the Bulls outhit Howard, .259 to .212. All four sets were close as neither team held more than a two point lead in any set when the media timeout was called midway through the set. The opening set remained tied at 23-23 when back-to-back kills from sophomore Andrea Mitrovic clinched the first, 25-23.
Howard grabbed a close second set to tie the match up at 1-1, but then UB responded in a big way in the third. With the set tied at 16-16 in the third, UB scored five straight points, including a pair of kills from senior Megan Wernette to give Buffalo the 21-16 lead. Howard was able to fight off three set points before a Mitrovic kill clinched the set and gave UB a 2-1 lead.
The Bulls raced out to a 7-2 lead in the fourth set before Howard was able to tie it up at 15-15. The Bulls answered though with four straight points to take the 19-15 advantage. The Bulls clinched the match following a block from Mitrovic and junior Kristina Nieves.
Mitrovic became the 10th player in school history to record a 20/20 match as she finished with 24 kills and 20 digs. The 24 kills tie a career high for the sophomore. Wernette added 13 kills and Nieves finished with 12. Junior Polina Prokudina had nine kills in the win.
Sophomore Tia Gleason had a career-high 56 assists in the four-set match, averaging 16.0 assists per set.
Defensively the Bulls recorded 83 digs in the match, including two 20-dig performances. In addition to Mitrovic's 20-dig match, freshman Paige Beck had her first career 20-dig night. Senior Larra Bickelhaupt added 14 digs and junior Hannah Watson had 10.
In the first match of the day, the Bulls were unable to overcome nationally-ranked Penn State as the fifth-ranked Nittany Lions won the match, 25-18, 25-14, 25-10. Penn State outhit UB in the match, .440 to .090.
Mitrovic led the Bulls with 13 kills in the match, while Prokudina added seven. Gleason ran the offense, finishing with 25 assists.
Defensively, Mitrovic led UB with eight digs, while Bickelhaupt added five. Gleason, Beck, and Watson all had four digs on the afternoon.
With the non-conference schedule complete, the Bulls will open Mid-American Conference play on Friday when UB hosts Bowling Green at 6pm and the Bulls will then host Miami (OH) on Saturday evening.